Facebook Turned A Blind Eye to Children Overspending in Games

By Nitish Singh / January 25, 2019

According to court documents released from a 2012 class-action lawsuit, Facebook intentionally chose not to offer refunds to parents of children who raked massive bills through in-game purchases on the platform. The court documents revealing the details were not made public until recently when requested by Reveal News.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was forced to pay thousands of dollars to Facebook. The child was unaware that they were buying virtual currency in-game using real money charged to plaintiff’s credit card. As soon as the mother saw the charges reflecting on her credit card statement, she requested a refund, but Facebook declined.

Internal documents that were revealed as part of the lawsuit showed that Facebook employees had raised concerns about the problem. According to the social media giant’s own data, the average age of children playing Angry Birds was just five, and at the time there was no way from preventing kids from getting hold of their parents’ phones and making a bunch of virtual currency purchases. There was no pin code or any other kind of authentication in place that would prevent kids from raking in large credit card bills.

The plaintiffs won the case in their favor in a California court, and Facebook was directed to process refunds. A support page was launched on the social media platform to inform users about the company’s new refund policy that would allow parents to get back money from payments made by children without permission.

Even though some employees suggested that Facebook should refund the money for purchases that were made without permission, one employee suggested ignoring the situation as it would lead to a lot of revenue being lost. With a number of instances involving kids spending thousands of dollars on games spreading on social media Facebook just called it “friendly fraud” and did not process refunds. Online gaming is extremely popular with some mobile games raking in hundreds of millions of players and without proper payment authentication methods in place, it is possible that kids end up spending a ton of money without their parents knowing.

What do you think about Facebook’s decision to ignore overspending by kids on the platform? Let us know in the comments below. Get instant updates on TechNadu’s Facebook page, or Twitter handle.

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